Afia - getting informed consent from users

"Patrick is a genius. Not only is he one of the most intuitive, insightful people I've worked with, he's seriously practical, too. He's brilliant at rallying a disparate group of people around a common cause and delivering a great outcome." Ben Afia, head honcho at Afia.

A global energy company were required by new Ofgem rules to ensure that their smaller business customers fully understood the energy deal to which they were signing up. But the team in charge of this product wanted to go further and improve the whole customer experience.

Afia – a tone of voice consultancy and a GMV partner – were working with this client to redefine how their brand was represented in writing and speaking to customers. Recognising the need to reimagine the customer journey, and the particular legal and compliance writing needed, Afia brought in GMV.

Although GMV mostly works with creative, cultural and digital enterprises, we relish the challenge of applying our user-centred service design approach and expertise in regulation and business affairs to projects of national significance in other sectors.

The legals are a significant part of the customer experience of any service, whether it is the supply of energy, creative or cultural experiences or information. Intellectual property, personal data and online selling are ever more crucial parts of legal agreements, but still poorly understood.

So making them transparent and contribute to your customers’ trust in you – and being able to test this in print and online – is more of a necessity than ever before.

To achieve this goal, we helped Afia redesign the structure, information design and content of the client’s Terms and Conditions for their Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) customers:

  • We mapped the journey that customers went on in deciding to switch to or stay with their energy supplier – and rewrote from scratch the story of the T&Cs to follow it. 
  • We worked with designers to create a visual language that helped customers find their way around the T&Cs and all the letters they might receive from their energy supplier throughout the whole of the relationship.
  • We helped Afia rewrite the T&Cs and the letters in plain English with short, active sentences and straightforward language. And we explained carefully – using words and pictures – the few bits of legal and technical jargon that had to remain.

We then tested them with current and potential customers, carefully observing and fixing any points where they got confused. Twenty-six versions later, we had developed new materials to ensure that smaller business owners fully understood the legal agreement they were entering into – and we were able to demonstrate this to the client and Ofgem.